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Our View: Akel’s criticism of foreign minister over Turkey is justified

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides

Foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides is the latest state official who seems to believe he is above criticism. He follows the example set by the auditor-general and the attorney-general, who make a habit of questioning their critics’ motives and defining what criticism is acceptable and what is not.

Christodoulides repeated his accusations against Akel on two television stations on Wednesday, claiming the party was engaging in an organised campaign against him that contained a personal element. Of course, the criticism did indeed have a personal element, because it was directed at the foreign minister’s declarations, policy and decisions regarding the ‘legal and political shield’ of the Cypriot EEZ, which has proved nothing more than a slogan.

The hollowness of this ‘legal and political shield’ has been exposed by Turkey’s total disregard for international law and provocative assertion that ‘might is right’. Turkey has just sent its drillship to Block 8 in the Cypriot EEZ for which the Republic had given drilling licences to foreign companies. This is the latest humiliation inflicted on the Republic by Turkey, which has now raised doubts about the validity of licensing contracts signed by oil companies and the Cyprus government.

Turkey is behaving like a ‘pirate’ as the government has said, but is doing so with impunity. The price that Christodoulides claimed Turkey would pay for its illegal and aggressive actions has not materialised. This is the minister who a few months ago was boasting about the ‘targeted’ measures and even sanctions that the EU would impose on Turkey, the minister that reassured us that Cyprus – through its strategic alliances – had been greatly strengthened and acquired geo-strategic importance.

He was on radio, television and in newspapers every other day reassuring the public that all the steps were being taken to safeguard our EEZ and that tough sanctions would be imposed on Turkey. This grandstanding and raising of expectations were made a mockery of by President Anastasiades himself, when on Tuesday he said we should not have illusions that the EU would take tougher measures against Turkey. Asked about this, Christodulides said the president was being pragmatic – in stark contrast to his foreign minister.

Having got things so badly wrong Christodoulides should be engaging in self-criticism instead of complaining because a political party has pointed this out. He should be man enough to accept the political criticism and take responsibility for his poor judgement in raising expectations about stopping Turkey through alliances, sanctions and arrest warrants.

He may not be accustomed to criticism, but if he wants to pursue a political career, he should learn to take it.

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